The Timeline of Air Conditioning Innovation
Did you know it is over one hundred years since the invention of air conditioning? We all appreciate the benefits it has brought into the world since those early days. Air conditioning and refrigeration have been used for cooling and heating in domestic, medical, and scientific settings. Cooling systems have even put a man on the moon, with the late space pioneer Neil Armstrong’s space suit having inbuilt cooling.
Here we take a look back along the time line to see how far we have come.
1830 – At the Florida hospital where he works, Dr. John Gorrie built a machine that made ice using compression. Ice filled buckets had air blown over them to create cool air. The idea was patented in 1851, and DR Gorrie believed his invention would cool buildings worldwide. Sadly, his dream melted away like ice when he was unable to obtain financial backing.
1881 After surviving an assassination attempt by shooting, US President James Garfield was made cool and comfortable when Navy engineers built a makeshift unit. Filled with soaked cloth, fans blew warm air overhead, which forced the cooler air to the ground. They found this method could lower air temperature by 20 degrees. Unfortunately, it used an impractical 500,000 pounds of ice in two months and the President died anyway!
1902 -Willis Carrier invented an air treating apparatus for a firm of publishers Sackett Wilhelm. This device used cold coils over which air was blown to control temperature and to reduce humidity. This improved working methods as this device prevented the paper form being wrinkled, damaged, and kept the ink aligned. Due to the success of this implementation, Willis Carrier set up his Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America.
1906 -Stuart Cramer from North Carolina was a textile engineer who created a device for adding humidity to the atmosphere in textile mills. Higher humidity makes the raw materials easier to spin thus preventing breakages. He was the person who coined the phrase “air conditioning”.
1914 – Domestic air conditioning units were installed in the mansion of Charles Gates in Minneapolis. The unit was colossal measuring 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long. No one knows for certain if this system was a success as nobody ever resided in the house.
1931 –The window ledge air conditioner was invented by J.Q. Sherman and H.H. Schultz. This design can still be seen worldwide on apartment buildings.
1939 – The first air-conditioned car was invented by Packard. It only had one temperature of “chilly” and if it were unbearable, the compressor would have to be disconnected under the bonnet.
1947 – A scholar from Great Britain named S.F. Markham wrote that he thought air conditioning was possibly the greatest invention of the century with the USA leading the way.
1950s – In the boom following World War II residential air conditioning was something that every home needed as the “must have” accessory in warmer climates.
1970s – The seventies saw the invention of central air conditioning. Using, fans, condensers and coils, the refrigerant known as Freon-12 was used as a coolant.
1994 – As environmental awareness increased, Freon was associated with depletion of the ozone layer and several countries banned it.
2000s – Carbon emissions are on the global agenda and legislation on coolant gases was introduced in order to reduce carbon emissions. This led to the introduction of technology to reduce energy use and introduce strict automatic controls over the systems. Remote access gave users control over managing their systems from smart phones and computers.